Way, way back pre-coronavirus, the honchos of the SB Nation AL Central blogs got together for a roundtable to discuss the season. As we never published any of them at South Side Sox before the season was shut down, this week we’ll roll them out, so you can get reacquainted with the teams that you will be so tired of seeing by season’s end. (Forty of 60 games, yikes!) Keep in mind, of course, that these were written before the season was delayed, and some team (and life) details have changed in the intervening months.
Today we move east, to the Cleveland Unnamed. Managing editor of Let’s Go Tribe, Matt Lyons, drops the knowledge.
1. What’s changed for your team over the offseason?
Well, the sadness levels have increased, that’s one. Corey Kluber is longer a member of the Indians, but Emmanuel Clase and Delino DeShields are. The payroll has been slashed by several million dollars with no sign of reinvestment. It’s going great, actually.
1a. Any noteworthy free agents or trades, new coaches or front office people? How will these changes impact your team in 2020?
The coaching staff and front office remain the same. The Twins already stole Derek Falvey, quietly one of the most important members of the Indians front office when he was there. As for on the field, Francisco Lindor is there (for now), and the bullpen looks a bit better with Clase in the mix and hopefully James Karinchak getting a full year there. Domingo Santana is the most recent addition and hopefully, he can provide something resembling his 2017 offense. If he does, dare I say the Indians offense might actually be good? I do dare.
1b. What guys got traded away, walked as free agents, or retired that will impact your team in 2020, and what will that impact be?
Losing Kluber sucks on an emotional level, but I think his decline was in the cards. He was already walking a lot of batters before his injury and his sinker just wasn’t working the way it used to, so I get why the Indians traded him but I still hate it. It helps that the rotation is still one of the best in baseball without him. No one else of note really left besides Jason Kipnis, but he wasn’t much of a factor in his final year in Cleveland — for better or worse this is mostly the same team as last season.
2. What players that we haven’t heard of will we want to know about going into 2020? Guys with bigger roles, prospects that might be called up, or breakout candidates?
Karinchak for sure. This whole bullpen is going to surprise anyone not paying attention. If Daniel Johnson, who was part of the return for Yan Gomes last offseason, can break into the outfield he has a chance to be something special as well. Apparently Zach Plesac has been mentored by Mike Clevinger in the offseason, so I’m anxious to see if he’s really transformed into a middle-of-the-order guy with the newfound tutelage.
3. What are the general feelings of your fan base going into 2020: optimism, pessimism, a little of both?
There are strong opinions on both sides that no matter how you feel you’ll find someone who vehemently disagrees with you. But this offseason, combined with last offseason, has disillusioned a lot of Indians fans. The team is being clearly run like a business, not an organization that’s goal is to win a World Series. Hopefully they luck into one before I die, though.
4. Who is your pick to win the AL Central, and why?
The Indians. Fight me.
5. What else should our readers know about your team?
They’re very poor, please give them money.